Examining Presuppositions

We have to have our presuppositions, our basic assumptions.   We can’t start every thought process with Descartes’ “I think, therefore I am” and work our way up from there.  I can’t sit down to a bill-paying session and have to reason through “one plus one equals two” before I get my checkbook out, and I can’t question whether gravity is going to work before turning my alarm off and getting out of bed in the morning.

Presuppositions save us time.

However, it’s good to be aware that we, all of us, have presuppositions, and to be aware that sometimes those assumptions are unfounded or unsupportable.  I may assume without checking that my bookmark is where I left it in my latest library read, to the extent that I might tell someone I have my place marked.  However, that would prove to be an unfounded belief if one of my children picked it up off the table out of curiosity and the Walmart receipt I’d used to keep my place had then slipped out.  My presupposition would then not correspond with reality and I would need to be open to examining it, and changing it, in light of the evidence.

Great danger lies in unexamined presuppositions, and even greater peril lies in the fact that many of us have basic assumptions of which we are essentially unaware.  The most honest thing to do is to own and admit to our presuppositions, but this is trickier than you might think.  I am sure that there are things I take for granted which may or not be in line with “how things really are,” but I may very well be blind to them.

I require honest friends, and honest dialogue, to help me examine my assumptions, and I require the courage and integrity to admit when some foundational belief I hold does not correspond with how things are.  We’ll never be free of presuppositions, but may we all have the grace and the wit and the will to acknowledge them and know them for what they are.

Hope all’s well out there, friends, and God bless.